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At the Rink blog

Grabovski excited for return to Toronto with Capitals

Saturday, 11.23.2013 / 1:25 PM

By Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

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2013-2014 At the Rink Blog
Grabovski excited for return to Toronto with Capitals

TORONTO -- When the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Washington Capitals at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night, it will mark Mikhail Grabovski’s first game in Toronto since being bought out by the Maple Leafs in July.

"Oh yeah, he's very excited," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said about Grabovski playing against his old team. "He told me it's a strange feeling to come back in a different way, different locker room. He's excited. It's nice to see the guy who wants to improve and wants to show how good he is."

Grabovski is third on the Capitals with 19 points, trailing Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He struggled last season with the Maple Leafs, collecting 16 points in 48 games.

"He's done a great job, he really has," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "Anytime you make a change, for him coming to a new system, new team, it takes a little while to get going. I think what really helped him was obviously opening night, he had a great night. Since then, he's fit in with his linemates and done a great job."

The Capitals held an optional morning skate following their 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in Washington on Friday. There will be at least one change in the lineup: Eric Fehr will play and Martin Erat will be a healthy scratch.

"It was time for [Fehr] to get a game, [Erat]'s been fighting it a little bit, in my mind," Oates said. "Sometimes when you sit up top you get a fresh perspective. It's not permanent, just trying to shake it up a little bit."

Braden Holtby was the first goalie off at morning skate and figures to get the start. Michal Neuvirth took the loss against the Canadiens.

The Maple Leafs will have a couple changes to their lineup: Forward Trevor Smith will likely be out in favor of Frazer McLaren. Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said defenseman Mark Fraser was "probably very probable" to play. His return comes after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury.

Defenseman Morgan Rielly took rushes on the second power play unit during the morning skate, meaning Paul Ranger could be scratched.

James Reimer was the first goalie off and will likely start against the Capitals. Jonathan Bernier has started four of the last five games.

Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Maple Leafs:

CAPITALS

Marcus JohanssonNicklas BackstromAlex Ovechkin

Jason ChimeraBrooks LaichJoel Ward

Eric FehrMikhail GrabovskiTroy Brouwer

Aaron VolpattiMichael LattaTom Wilson

Karl AlznerJohn Carlson

Nate SchmidtMike Green

Alexander UrbomTyson Strachan

Braden Holtby

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Martin Erat, Jay Beagle, Steve Oleksy

Injured: John Erskine (upper body), Jack Hillen (broken leg )

MAPLE LEAFS

James van RiemsdykPeter HollandPhil Kessel

Joffrey LupulNazem KadriDavid Clarkson

Mason RaymondJay McClementNikolai Kulemin

Frazer McLarenJerred SmithsonColton Orr

Carl GunnarssonDion Phaneuf

Jake GardinerCody Franson

Mark FraserMorgan Rielly

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Trevor Smith, Paul Ranger

Injured: Tyler Bozak (hamstring), Dave Bolland (ankle)

Quote of the Day

He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.

— David Ekblad on his son's [Aaron Ekblad] journey to the NHL, signing with the Florida Panthers